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Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Monday, 22 November 2010
Bird sanctuary urges Harry Potter fans to adopt an owl

Baldrick, the rock eagle owl
This owl was handed over as his owners no longer wanted him as a pet

As the latest Harry Potter film hits the cinemas, owl sanctuaries fear another upsurge in the demand for these rare birds as pets.

India's minister for the environment has already announced a serious decline in his country's owl population and the North Wales Bird Trust say they have cared for over 100 former pet birds over the past nine years.

So instead of asking for one as a present this Christmas, the trust will be encouraging Llandudno primary school children to think of adopting one of their owls instead.

The 'adopt an owl' programme gives the public a chance to donate money towards the upkeep of a particular owl at the sanctuary in exchange for a photo, certificate and newsletter.

Pam Broughton of the trust said: "We're inviting the children of Ysgol San Sior, Llandudno, on Monday to bring some of their unwanted and unappreciated Christmas presents to school to compare with the opportunity of adopting an owl as a unique gift that will put a smile on someone's face.

"We'll be taking some of our owls to enable the children and explaining how the money for the adoption will be spent. It's always awfully nice to see for yourself what you're being asked to help conserve.

If it is true that anybody has been influenced by my books to think that an owl would be happiest shut in a small cage and kept in a house, I would like to take this opportunity to say as forcefully as I can: please don’t
JK Rowling

"But we do always stress that the majority would not be in captivity if they hadn't been taken as pets."

In JK Rowling's best-selling Harry Potter books, wizards use the birds to carry their post, but a representative of the trust's Llandudno-based sanctuary stresses that owls do not make good pets.

Pam said: "One of the major problems is that they look so wonderful as tiny chicks.

"Then they grow into adult owls which are very difficult to control unless you know how to do it properly.

"They also live for quite a long time. Barn owls, one of the most popular to be kept as pets because they are so beautiful, live for over 25 years in captivity."

The trust says there are only around 4,500 pairs of barn owls left in the wild, but that 120,000 were bred as pets last year. Generally, only 1-2% will survive the experience of living in captivity.

The sanctuary recently took charge of a young tawny owl which had been removed from its parents as a chick and has imprinted on humans.

It has missed out on learning how to hunt for prey and so cannot be successfully returned to the wild.

There are currently over 150 owls at Bodafon, half of which do not come in contact with the public because they have been badly treated by humans in the past.

Harry Potter 'link' to owl deaths
03 Nov 10 |  South Asia
Bird trust helps owls fight back
07 Dec 09 |  Nature & Outdoors


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